Leading up to the second Republican primary debate in California, the Republican National Committee (RNC) is officially on the spot. The Washington establishment is on notice.
Will the RNC encourage debate or discourage it? Will Republican insiders support free speech or oppose it? Will they represent an entrenched establishment or the entirety of the Republican Party?
If the first debate was any indication, “America First” Republicans have every reason to be skeptical about their leadership in Washington, D.C. The RNC banned me—a political outsider—from the debate stage last month, even though I met and exceeded the qualifications set for the debate. Establishment Republicans are clearly scared that America First conservatives are willing to speak their minds and touch on difficult issues, most notably the epidemic of fatherlessness, the scourge of Soros-funded district attorneys, and the lie that America is “systemically racist.”
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Earlier this year, the RNC set a first debate requirement for candidates of at least 40,000 individual donors, including 200 donors in 20 states. The RNC also required candidates to register at least one percent support in select polling, providing detailed cross tabs of such polls. Then there was the “Beat Biden” loyalty pledge, which needed to be signed as a declaration of support for the eventual Republican nominee, whoever it may be. And on top of that, there was the agreement to allow the RNC to view every candidate’s WinRed fundraising totals, among other legal hurdles.
I cleared each and every bar. From attracting more than 40,000 individual donors in at least 37 states (almost double the requirement) to hitting the key polling metrics and signing the RNC’s loyalty pledge, our campaign passed the test over and over again.
And yet the establishment rigged the rules at the last minute, claiming one of the polls that our campaign submitted for qualification was rejected on the basis that it was affiliated with Donald Trump’s campaign, although the pollster denied any affiliation with the Trump campaign. Republican insiders not only barred me from the stage, but also banned my campaign team from entering the venue.
This simply cannot happen again, and we won’t go quietly into the night. Our campaign recently launched a half-million-dollar advertising blitz to hold the RNC accountable, in addition to sending its leadership a letter that urges fairness, transparency, and equal opportunity for the upcoming debate. Campaigns like ours need to know—with 100 percent certainty—which polls are approved and which are not, among other qualifying (or disqualifying) factors.
The Republicans running for president in 2024 are committed to participating in a fair, informative debate that allows for a comprehensive exploration of the issues at hand. The RNC should hold itself to the same standard, showcasing free expression and full participation. Any vagueness or 11th-hour chicanery undermines our efforts to get America back on track and expose the Democrats who are responsible for our decline. We’ve got a country to save, and any interference from the Washington establishment is only holding us back. This election is not the RNC’s to swing one way or the other.
Given that the second debate will be held in my home state (at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library), I have every intention of participating come September 27th, and our campaign is on track to meet or exceed the qualifications—yet again. Millions of Americans—and not only Republicans—want me to participate, highlighting issues like fatherlessness, crime, and the myth of systemic racism. In recent weeks, we have heard from countless voters who are discouraged and jaded by the RNC’s abuse of power, especially after detached, cynical politicians have failed to serve their constituents for decades.
The stakes are high in this election. If we are to reverse America’s decline and enter a new American Golden Age, the American people need open debate now more than ever before. We must discuss the issues and agree on solutions to our many problems, not only at the second debate, but in the years ahead. The hard work starts now.
As Americans, we cannot allow the establishment to continue America’s decline. Our decline is only inevitable if we trust in the wrong leaders, and I’ve had enough of doing that in a blue state. That’s why I’m fighting back against the Washington establishment harder than any other candidate who will be on the debate stage this month.
This fight isn’t just about me. Ours is a fight for the democracy, freedom, and equality of opportunity that have come to define American prosperity over the centuries. We are fighting for America’s soul.
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Let’s vote no on the establishment. Let’s vote yes to free speech, democratic debate, and fairness for all involved.
Larry Elder is a Republican candidate for president of the United States in 2024. He is the author of “As Goes California: My Mission to Rescue the Golden State and Save the Nation.”
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of the Tampa Free Press or Daily Caller News Foundation.
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